Perhaps none of the 13 players drafted by the Eagles faces a bigger adjustment to the NFL than tight end Clay Harbor. Harbor, the last of four fourth-round picks (125th overall), is the only player among the draft picks who did not play college football at a BCS conference.
So when the 6-foot-2, 252-pound Missouri State product took the field for his first mini-camp this past weekend, it was a truly eye-opening experience.
"It's tough," he said. "It was a lot different than what you'd have to do in college when you'd get six to eight plays a day. And here, we had to know basically 100 plays. I had a couple of mental errors, but everything worked out well. I'm catching on and by next week I should have them all.
"There was definitely more of a comfort level each day of practice and after every film session and meeting with the coach. It just kept getting better and better and the comfort level has definitely risen. I'm looking forward to getting back here and working some more on that."
Beyond the sheer number of new plays that are thrown at rookies, there is also a much higher level of precision demanded at the professional level that takes getting used to.
"There are just a lot more details in the NFL than in college," Harbor said. "You have to pay attention to every little thing you do, every little piece of your route. You have to push vertical for a half a step more than you would in college; you have to give them a little stick, a little fake, into a route before you make your choice on direction. There's just a lot more details involved than normal for me."
Harbor finds himself entrenched in what figures to be one of the more intriguing roster battles at training camp. Last year, the Eagles only kept two tight ends on the roster for the majority of the season, although they have carried three in the past. It's likely that three tight ends will make the roster in 2010 simply because of the depth of young talent at the position. Behind prospective Pro-Bowler Brent Celek are Harbor, 2009 fifth-round pick Cornelius Ingram and Martin Rucker, who spent much of the 2009 season on the Eagles practice squad and is highly-regarded by the coaches.
Ingram, 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, is a physical marvel when healthy, but he is coming off of two consecutive years ended in pre-season because of a torn ACL. Rucker, 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, is also an athletic pass catcher. But the impending fight for a roster spot did not stop Rucker's fellow tight ends from helping out the new guy.
"The tight end group was great," Harbor said. "Brent, Cornelius, Martin, all those guys really helped me out a lot."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 4:41 p.m., May 5